Energy transfer mechanism in luminescence Eu(III) and Tb(III) complexes of coumarin-3-carboxylic acid: A theoretical study

Ivelina Georgieva, Tsvetan Zahariev, Adelia J.A. Aquino, Natasha Trendafilova, Hans Lischka

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Excited state energy level diagrams of coumarin-3-carboxylic acid (HCCA) chromophore, Eu(CCA)Cl2(H2O)2 (1), Eu(CCA)2Cl(H2O)2 (2), Eu(CCA)3(H2O)3 (3), Tb(CCA)2Cl(H2O) (4) and Tb(CCA)2(NO3)(H2O) (5) in gas phase and polar solution have been calculated by means of DFT/TDDFT/ωB97XD methods. Based on these results, the ability of CCA to sensitize Eu(III) and Tb(III) luminescence has been examined. The competitive excited state processes in the complexes – fluorescence, intersystem crossing (ISC) and phosphorescence, were analyzed depending on the environment, number of the ligands, Ln(III) ion type (Eu and Tb) and counteranion (Cl and NO3). It has been found that the environment altered the S1 state energy, oscillator strength, fluorescence lifetime as well as the S1 character – polar solution stabilized the S1(ππ*) state, whereas non-polar solution (gas phase, solid state) stabilized the S1(nπ*) state. The S1(nπ*) state was decisive for the efficient energy transfer as it suppressed the S1 emission of CCA and favored ISC or direct transfer to the emitting levels of Eu(III). The HCCA triplet (T1) state minimum energy (~2.7, ~2.6ZPE eV) and (ππ*) character were retained in Eu/Tb-CCA complexes regardless of the environment. The energy gap between the higher energy T1 donor state and the acceptor levels 5D1 of Eu(III) (~0.5 eV) and 5D4 of Tb(III) (~0.1 eV) provided optimal resonance conditions for effective energy transfer for Eu(III), but less probability for Tb(III). The nonradiative energy (CCA → Eu(III)) transfer rates and quantum luminescence yield for 2 and 3 were calculated by a strategy combining DFT geometries, INDO/S excitation energies and calculated Judd-Ofelt parameters. The excitation channel T15D0 through an exchange mechanism was predicted as the most probable one to populate the main emissive Eu-centered state in complexes 2 and 3. The more efficient luminescence of 3 than that of 2 was discussed and explained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118591
JournalSpectrochimica Acta - Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular Spectroscopy
StatePublished - Oct 15 2020


  • Coumarin-3-carboxylic acid
  • Energy diagrams
  • Energy transfer mechanism
  • Luminescence Eu(III) and Tb(III) complexes


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